Ronald McDonald House Charities Pledges $1 Million to Help Kids

Gift helps fund new emergency department at Children's Hospital at Strong

September 26, 2000

To further its mission of helping ill children and their families, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester is pledging $1 million to help fund a new pediatric emergency department and related programs at Children's Hospital at Strong.

The Ronald McDonald House Charities Children's Emergency Department is scheduled to open early next spring. It will offer more family and child-friendly services, in addition to spacious patient care rooms, its own waiting area, and an atmosphere that sets it apart from traditional emergency departments.

"We see this as a natural extension of our mission," says Sharon Potter, a local McDonald's owner/operator and board president. "The local Ronald McDonald House serves hundreds of out-of-town families each year. With this gift to Children's Hospital at Strong, we'll be able to expand our reach and offer important services to local families, including thousands of children from the Rochester area."

Children's emergency care requires a highly trained staff, unique equipment, and an appropriate and child-friendly environment. In order to meet the unique emotional, physical, and social needs of children and their families, great care and expertise must be devoted to the creation of space where children receive emergency services

The new pediatric emergency department will feature an innovative horseshoe design with 13 patient rooms that can be converted to 22 if the need arises. It is being built along with a new emergency department for Strong Memorial Hospital.

The pledge from Ronald McDonald House Charities will be paid during a five-year period. It will enable the pediatric emergency department to offer the services of a child-life specialist; provide for training of new physicians in pediatric emergency medicine; offer generous support for nursing and family educational programs; fund start-up research projects to benefit children; and provide for capital equipment.

More than 19,000 children are treated in the emergency department at Children's Hospital at Strong each year. Julius Goepp, M.D., director of pediatric emergency medicine, thinks the new emergency department will set Rochester apart from other areas of the country.

"Few emergency departments make use of child-life specialists, who are trained to recognize children's unique developmental and emotional needs, and to work with them to overcome their fears and to make their experiences understandable to them and their parents," Goepp says. "And, to our knowledge, this is the first time any children's emergency department has had independent support for its physician training program."

"Also, because nurses provide an enormous part of children's care, and help to set the overall tone of the department, we are delighted to have funds devoted specifically to their training and professional development. This gift will help to establish Children's Hospital at Strong's pre-eminence in the field of pediatric emergency medicine."

Goepp says the $1 million pledge from Ronald McDonald House Charities will take its partnership with Children's Hospital at Strong to a new level. He says a state-of-the-art pediatric emergency department - friendlier, less intimidating, and more community-oriented - is of special importance to medically under-served populations, because it may represent their only accessible source of health care.

For years, Children's Hospital at Strong and Ronald McDonald House Charities have worked together to help children and their families. If a child who lives outside of Rochester is being treated at Children's Hospital at Strong or any other local medical facility, his or her family can take advantage of lodging and emotional support at the Ronald McDonald House, located on Westmoreland Drive, within walking distance of the hospital.

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester reaches out to families in the community by supporting other children's charities, supporting a variety of programs in the region that promote children's education, health, and social well being. The pledge to Children's Hospital at Strong is the single-largest grant made by a local chapter of Ronald McDonald House Charities.

"During 10 years of serving families in medical crisis, we've come to understand that many times their first contact with the hospital is through the emergency department," says Bonnie Vahey, executive director of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester. "Long after the medical crisis is over, emotional scars can linger. Our first goal, through this grant, is to minimize emotional trauma for kids. This emergency department is being designed to be child friendly. Secondly, we hope that, through support for nursing education and an emergency pediatric fellow, staff members at Children's Hospital at Strong can continue to hone their skills to provide the best possible care."

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